The Side of Church Leadership Nobody Sees
I don't think I ever fully appreciated the amount of effort, organization, and sacrifice required to enable a ward to function smoothly until last week when our ward was split.
We all knew the split was coming.
My wife and I have only lived in this ward for about 2 months, and we're renters in Utah, so I knew I was safe... then I got a phone call.
"Brother Bagley, the Stake President would like to meet with you this week."
I was asked to be the Assistant Executive Secretary (dodged the bishop/counselor bullet), which means I was one of 7 people to have a calling in a ward of 300+ members. We had to staff an entire ward in about a week.
I spent lots of time in meetings and on the phone with dozens of people in my neighborhood that I'd never talked to before in my life. "Hi, Brother/Sister _____? It's Nate Bagley from the ward. The bishop would like to meet with you for a few minutes on Thursday. Are you available for a quick chat?"
"No problem Nate."
"I'll be there."
One by one I watched strangers enter the Bishop's office as a stranger, then walk out 15 minutes later as a nervous primary president, an apprehensive relief society counselor, or an excited but overwhelmed young men's leader.
I watched this Sunday as dozens of people stood up in the congregation to be recognized and sustained to their callings. And suddenly at that moment, it dawned on me. This is how it's always been!
My entire life I've been a member of this church. I never fully grasped that every day thousands of people have silently stood up, taken a deep breath, and gotten to work to make sacrament meetings, campouts, activities, parties, meetings, trainings, temple trips, lessons, service projects, and conferences happen.
I never really realized how much effort goes into each Sunday to ensure we have a meeting program, everyone has a Sunday School teacher, the sacrament bread arrives on time, we have prepared speakers, someone to say the opening and closing prayer, someone to play the organ and someone to lead the music, someone to make sure the chairs are set up and taken down, someone to empty the garbage, someone to take care of the babies in nursery, and a host of amazing people to teach primary kids...
And amidst all that, we have a Bishop who is trying to conduct this chaotic volunteer orchestra all while tending to the sick, weary, suffering and poor among us.
Then, to add to the already heavy weight the Bishop carries on his shoulders, he likely knows that the handshake and smile he gives every member of the ward can make or break their dedication and willingness to contribute. One wrong look or out-of-context comment can start a wildfire of gossip, or wound a soul for years.
That's a lot of pressure to always be "on."
Then he has to go home, work his 9-5 job, and be an attentive and loving husband and father.
This kind of pressure and stress can be overwhelming.
We don't talk about it much, but when local leaders serve in the church, it can put a strain on their most intimate relationships. It takes a toll. It comes with a cost.
In today's interview, we sit down with the Francom's and among other things, we talk about the reality of serving in a leadership calling. Yes you get to experience miracles and blessings... but these leaders also struggle in a quite and often unnoticed way.
When you see your bishop or his wife this Sunday, or maybe a counselor, or a Relief Society president... give them a hug and say, "Thank you."
About Our Guests
Kurt is the founder of the Leading LDS podcast and website. He provides LDS Leaders with tools, resources, and training to effectively do magnify their callings. His interviews are awesome. If you have a leadership calling in the church, he definitely has something to help you do it better.